So, on my father’s birthday, I spoke about positioning. And, Jack Trout. And, branding.
And, what goes hand in hand with branding and positioning? Logos.
These icons or symbols have been around a long time. Think of the family crests that adorned flags and castles in the Middle Ages. Or the Crusader’s cross (which clearly brought fear and loathing to my ancestors).
But, that logo only acquires meaning from its associations. (Like the fear and loathing mentioned above.) And, we are interacting with such symbols in ways never considered in previous decades. It’s no longer just the visual signature of a firm found on letterheads, billboards, and other promotional venues. No, nowadays, we develop personal relationships with these logos- especially when they appear on (or as) apps on our phones and tablets.
The trick is to position one’s firm to ensure that the logo helps propel the business forward.
Back in the 1930s and 1940s, Raymond Loewy provided the world with radically changed designs. His industrial design portfolio included the modern Pennsylvania Railroad S1 steam locomotives, Greyhound Scenicruiser bus, Studebaker, among other ventures. Some of his logos were Lucky Strike (cigarettes), Shell, TWA, Exxon, and BP. His work demonstrated that industrial design (good appearance) was a valuable investment in one’s business.
And, more and more, companies that are expanding their business world wide are seeking out logos that avoid the use of Western letters. Consider Starbucks and Mastercard as but two examples.
Years past, logos had to be distinct, memorable, and simple. No gradations, no fine lines. Because printing technology could not provide such detail routinely- be it on a fax, newspaper ads, or the yellow pages. (Yes, I know the yellow pages are long gone.)
Consider some of our older logos…
Notice that our first logo was unique, balanced, and bold. But, also with no fine lines. Back in the early 1970s, this was easily printed and used in advertising.
Our next spin-off was Industrial Microgenics. It also had its genesis in the 1970s- so, its design was also blocky.
By the very early 1980s, there was CoLyte and yet another spin-off company, BioFiltration Technologies. You can begin to see how newer printing capabilities made our design concept less blocky.
By the mid-1980s, we spun off Bicarbolyte. Here we employed the stylized icon for a kidney in our logo.
And, in the mid-2000s, we morphed our firm into Adjuvancy. We considered a stylized icon, but rejected it because all of our clients speak English, French, or Spanish (not necessarily as the first language). And, English is the language with which we communicate our results, so Western letters were to render it clear to potential clients how we plan to communicate.
If we offered an app for the phone, we’d opt for digital-centric logos. (Notice that the Microsoft Network icon is one that is really never printed, so it’s design concept is radically different. Those designs is not just visible branding- it’s functional.
And, given how technology is changing, it’s clear that logos will be updated way more frequently. Where the Xerox logo lasted for 50 years- they’ve been entirely redesigned. IBM changed theirs more frequently.
When we design a logo now, we seek to share our values, our vision, and our mission statements. Which clearly means we need to communicate our branding and positioning.
What’s your position?